CBLDF has joined a coalition questioning the constitutionality of Senate Bill 168, a Massachusetts bill that targets video games. SB 168 calls for the study of various aspects of video games, including their benefits and potential educational application, whether they incite violent behavior or are addictive, and whether they should be regulated.
The bill targets violent video games in particular, raising concerns among free speech advocates. Government efforts to regulate violent expression have been repeatedly struck down, and the First Amendment rights of video games were affirmed in Brown v. EMA, so the bill’s emphasis on violent video games brings its constitutionality into question. Legal precedent affirms that the government cannot target protected expression because of content, and violent speech is one form of protected expression.
CBLDF joins the National Coalition Against Censorship, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, and TechFreedom in questioning the bill. The full comments follow.